What it’s really like to be an author

My reputation is to be fearless. It was never true, off course, but back in the day when I was leading ERA rallies, confronting irascible politicians about funding the Domestic Violence Network, or bringing women to the state Capitol to fight for decent welfare benefits, I had to act confident, as if I knew what to do every minute. Those are scary things to do, and getting people to do them requires panache.

What scared me most was public speaking and talking to newspeople. The latter always had an angle that they didn’t want to share, and they loved nothing more than stirring up controversy, by, say, asking me why the feminist movement urged women to work instead of taking care of their children (which of course we never did.) And then on top of that to have to urge young women to take hours from their careers and significant relationships, right in the middle of their “urge to merge” years, required persuasive skills I wasn’t sure I had.

Well, some wonderful friends helped me with tips on handling media, but I screwed up my courage for the other tasks by posting this quote over my desk and next to my phone:

Feel the fear, and do it anyway. (Wilma Scott Heide, an early President of NOW)

How I need those words again, now that I am promoting a book of my own nationality for the first time! Oh, there have been poetry chapbooks, and the Jane anthologies, but nothing compares to having to promote your own face, bio, and slant on writing to every possible outlet, in order to create the buzz that gets your book reviewed and ordered by bookstores.

Here’s the thing: we authors had a vision about something important to say–in my case, about the importance of positive friendships in helping one survive as an outsider in an often cruel world–and now we have to make that vision important to others, as well. Otherwise, why bother to publish at all?

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